The latest on books and the arts


West-side story: Fleetwood Mac
Excess all areas: the pageantry and farce of the Fleetwood Mac story
By Mark Ellen - 13 November 10:00

If you ever thought the laid-back vocals of “Dreams” sounded as if they had been recorded by a naked woman lying between satin sheets, then it’s entirely possible you were right.

Jazz hand: the historian Eric Hobsbawm in 1976. Photo: Getty
Music of time: A night with Eric Hobsbawm’s record collection
By Philip Maughan - 13 November 10:00

I had heard that a new pop-up space, Spiritland in Shoreditch, would be playing records from Hobsbawm’s personal collection, so I went along to listen.

Ooh-aah: Eric Cantona in 2013. Photo: Getty
Maverick or phoney: why Balotelli has nothing in common with Cantona
By Ed Smith - 13 November 10:00

Ed Smith’s weekly column, Left Field. 

Detail from an 1800 engraving of a bust of Euripides. Photo: Getty
Uncovering remarkable lives through my second-hand Classics books
By Josh Spero - 13 November 10:00

Every life has some incident or episode that is worth telling. And so it proved as I delved into my Classics books, writes Josh Spero. 

Ready to rumble: Ali and Foreman in the famous 1974 fight. Photo: Getty
Lords of the ring: reliving Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle”
By Antonia Quirke - 13 November 10:00

A running commentary by Ricky Hatton and fellow boxers to mark the 40th anniversary of the super-fight, in what turned out to be a brilliantly conceived and delivered programme


A cross is seen as the moon is illuminated by sunlight during a total lunar eclipse, 8 October 8, 2014. Photo: Getty
Christians in space: Michel Faber’s science-fiction “last book”
By Erica Wagner - 13 November 10:00

We are in a future that is mostly just like the present. This isn’t the world of The Jetsons: Peter and his wife Bea shop in Tesco, have a cat called Joshua, drive a regular old car and read the Daily Express.

Mind your language: experimental psychologist Steven Pinker. Photo: Francesco Guidicini/Camera Press
A “mischievious” grammar: an encounter with the linguist Steven Pinker
By Tom Chivers - 13 November 10:00

There’s simply no reason to think that language (or society) is crumbling at all, says Pinker.

Land of opportunity: the developed world has allowed the poor to get poorer while the super-rich flourish
Capitalism was supposed to signal the end of poverty. What went wrong?
By David Aaronovitch - 13 November 10:00

David Aaronovitch reviews new books about wealth and inequality by Linda Tirado, John Kampfner and Danny Dorling. 

"Do men prefer cricket to waxing?": The Apprentice blog series 10, episode 6
By Anoosh Chakelian - 13 November 8:35

It's sexism and geopolitics for all ages as the teams attempt to invent their own board games.

Ali Smith: "The novel is a revolutionary force". Image: Rex
Ali Smith wins the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize for her novel “How To Be Both”
By Philip Maughan - 12 November 19:00

The £10,000 prize for experimental fiction has been awarded to the Scottish writer for her sixth novel which is “dizzyingly good and so clever that it makes you want to dance”.

A statue of Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo: Feng Li/Getty
I’m in the North Korean embassy in London, looking at a painting of a big brown horse
By Eleanor Margolis - 10 November 9:33

Is the infamously secretive state finally beginning to open up? An art exhibition at the London embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic would seem to suggest it might be.

London's burning: a London fire engine. Photo: Getty
Suzanne Moore: The fish fingers were in flames – then the fire became uncontrollable
By Suzanne Moore - 07 November 12:13

Suzanne Moore’s weekly column, Telling Tales. 

Pink hair: when children become teenagers there are a whole new set of worries. Photo: Ryan and Sarah Deeds/Flickr
Tracey Thorn: I’m still “going through a phase” and it’s not too bad at all
By Tracey Thorn - 07 November 12:09

As your children keep changing, so does the job of bringing them up, each different phase bringing its own specific concerns, which vanish as new ones arise.

In the Frame: Todd
By Tom Humberstone - 07 November 11:19

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.

Acting out: struggling thespian Stephen Toast (Matt Berry)
Burnt offering: Matt Berry’s Toast is no laughing matter
By Rachel Cooke - 06 November 16:18

It’s as if two sixth formers had watched a few old DVDs – The Dick Emery Show, Rising Damp, the odd episode of Bottom or Alan Partridge – then written down the first thing that came into their heads. 

Dark arts: King has just published his 58th book
Why Stephen King should stop worrying about literary extinction
By Mark Lawson - 06 November 16:15

Mark Lawson’s Critics Notes. 

Cold comfort: Matthew McConaughey as Cooper in Nolan's space opera
Home from home: Christopher Nolan’s space movie Interstellar fails to launch
By Ryan Gilbey - 06 November 15:12

It’s hard to care about the future of civilisation when we meet so few members of it worth saving and most of those behave like they know they’re in a movie.

Malin Byström as Elettra, Sophie Bevan as IIia, Franco Fagioli as Idamante and Matthew Polenzani as Idomeneo. Photo: ROH/Catherine Ashmore
Martin Kušej’s Idomeneo at the Royal Opera House is baffling and troubling
By Alexandra Coghlan - 06 November 12:23

The production is alienating, and not a in a sexy, Brecht kind of a way.

His master's voice: Clive James in 2010. Photo: Joss McKinley/New Statesman
Visions before midnight: the inimitable voice of Clive James
By George Szirtes - 06 November 10:00

Poetry Notebook is primarily a defence of apprenticeship and craft in pursuit of the elixir of memorability.

Auteur to author: David Cronenberg. Photo: Graeme Robertson/Eyevine
David Cronenberg’s first novel is so good, he should ditch his day job
By Toby Litt - 06 November 10:00

Consumed doesn’t read as a novel by a man who has spent most of his life writing screenplays – except, perhaps, that it reacts in the opposite direction, towards an art-house pacing.

Endurance test: Houses close to the Hoe in Plymouth. Photo: Getty
Will Self: Plymouth is for me ever associated with a certain outwardly bound derring-do
By Will Self - 06 November 10:00

As I sat in the cavernous and entirely empty dining room, delicately abstracting flesh-flakes from my perfectly poached cod, my only desire was that I could stay longer. Much longer.

Indian soldiers fire on Pakistani positions during the India-Pakistan War of 1971. Photo: Getty
The lasting consequences of buried, unspeakable horror
By Olivia Laing - 06 November 10:00

The primal damaging act in this novel is the appalling violence meted out by West Pakistan during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971, in particular the systematic campaign of rape.

Great pretenders: quaffable these top reds may be... but surely no saint would drink them
What would our comrades make of “icon” wines?
By Nina Caplan - 06 November 10:00

What does the term mean, other than that the wine is big, probably red, and certainly unaffordable?

Scorsese: doesn't rhyme with "foresees". Photo: Getty
“Don’t say anything nasty,” my son pleads, as we head for a university open day
By Nicholas Lezard - 06 November 10:00

A couple of years ago, I’d gone with his big sister to another university, where a lecturer had mispronounced one of the most prominent authorities in her discipline and I had got into a fight with him.

Think ink: a woman with a far less controversial tattoo at a convention in Cyprus in June. Photo: Getty
Strange geometry: is it ever possible to rehabilitate the Swastika?
By Antonia Quirke - 06 November 10:00

A community of tattoo artists in Copenhagen vehemently reject the swastika’s associations with all things menacing and want to “reclaim the symbol” as a deeply ancient emblem of well-being and peace. 

The graduate: David Wheeler of Exeter City (left), a former NS Subscriber of the Week. Photo: Getty
Where have all the graduate footballers gone? A football player reader explains
By Hunter Davies - 06 November 10:00

Just over a year ago, David Wheeler made it into the Football League, joining Exeter City in League Two, where he still is, a dashing and hard-working right winger. He started reading the NS six months ago.

Green peace: Foley links allotments with protest. Photo: From "London Allotments" series, Tom Nicholson
Land and freedom: the political history of British allotments
By Margaret Willes - 06 November 9:00

“Digging for victory” during the Second World War is well-covered ground but  the precedent was set three decades earlier when the government sleepwalked into a food crisis during WWI.

"Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn grew apart": The Apprentice blog series 10, episode 5
By Anoosh Chakelian - 06 November 8:39

“The task is a foreign country,” as LP Hartley wrote in the opening line of his first Apprentice review, “they do things differently there.”

There’s no evidence for a link between a decline in writing standards and texting. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty
No, the internet is not destroying our ability to read and spell
By Oliver Farry - 05 November 14:38

If anything, we are living in an age of unprecedented literacy – in the Western world, at least. The internet just makes our pre-existing mistakes far more visible.

The War Room in “Dr Strangelove” on screen. Image: Sony Pictures
Is this the best film set ever designed? On Dr Strangelove’s War Room
By David Hayles - 05 November 11:28

Ken Adam’s design for the War Room in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove is one of Hollywood’s most iconic images. David Hayles talks to the man who brought it into being.